PORTLAND, Oregon, U.S.A. – Movies that try to pull together an
amazing cast of heavyweights often seem to fail. The movie Be
Cool, a kind of sequel to Get
Shorty, had a grocery list of names that had to have casting directors
drooling. It also ended up being one of the worst films I have ever seen.
So it was with apprehension that I saw The
Expendables. I was looking forward to it in the respect that it had been a
very long time since I had seen a straight out action flick.
The market has been still for some time for these types of
features, but I was very nervous that the producers would get Sylvester
Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Mickey Rourke, and numerous others into the
same room . . . and then not know what to do.
But surprisingly enough, from a strictly entertainment value standpoint, they
pulled it off.
Let’s start by saying that if you do not like extremely violent, machismo action
flicks, this is in no way for you.
I haven’t seen this much blood on screen for a while, and then, it was either in
your standard horror, or a Kill
Bill comic book extravaganza of
violence. The Expendablesis
not stylized in such a way. It is just violent, the old-fashioned way that they
did in the ‘70s and ‘80s, before every action character had apparently spent
half their lives in a dojo.
The Expendables does have
redeeming qualities and there are points to the story. The assignment that the
film is based around is not taken for money, but for the noble idea of writing
the wrongs of a tyrannical dictator, or, rather, his puppet masters.
Slid into the violence is the overall message that a life of death and
destruction is really no life at all.
That being said, brace yourself for some carnage.
There are explosions, flying body parts, decimating shotgun attacks, and more
throwing knives than I think I’ve ever seen. There are fist-to-fist melees that
make you ooh and ahh with every punch, and, if you start to tire from hunks of
muscled steel beating the crap out of each other, you have Li throwing in a
spinning kick for good measure.
Li, who I was very excited to see in a new action movie, actually ended up being
more of a comic relief character than a vicious fighter, but there is no doubt
that the seasoned action film star can still move.
So, too, can Stallone.
I’ve seen neither the new Rambo or Rocky
Balboa, so maybe I am behind the times on the man’s physical fitness, but
if The Expendables is any indication, he can still taking a beating, and give
one right back in return.
Stallone also directed the movie, which always puts props in my book. To star in
a movie this size and direct it has to be at least a little trying.
Statham displays in full force why he is in almost every action movie of recent
years, and Randy Couture has a very satisfying fight against “Stone Cold” Steve
Austin’ of World Wrestling Entertainment fame, as well as a very comic play on
his hideous “cauliflower ears.”
Rourke’s acting, though, takes the cake. Everyone else in the film has the bare
minimum of facial expressions to work with, but Rourke, the one character who
has given up on the life of death, has a monologue both well written and
It easily shows why he has climbed back up on top of Hollywood, after years of
The scene, which is brief, has Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, and Stallone
in the same room. It’ll make any action flick aficionado quiver with excitement,
and is guaranteed to make you at least smile as both Stallone and Schwarzenegger
take little jabs at one another.
If there was one thing missing from this film it would be to at least see dear
Arnold involved in at least one battle. But complaining about a lack of violence
in this film seems ridiculous, as there was more than enough to go around.
The Expendables is an
honest-to-God action flick. It’s exactly what you expect it to be – bloody,
violent, and brutal, with an underlying moral that can easily be forgotten.
You don’t have to wait long for the next bout of violence, since it seems the
film was set on a timer for five-minute intervals. Beyond that, there’s gunfire.
If you are looking for something more than brutality, don’t see this movie.
Something more is there, but that’s all it is; there. If you took it out, the
film wouldn’t be too different.
That being said, if you have found yourself at the theatre lately wondering
where the good, old-fashioned action flick has gone, go see The
It’s exactly what you are looking for.